Newsletter No. 39 February 1997

Dear Friends

Friends 1997 began in great weather with a campout at Cyanide Dam. Twelve members, along with some visitors from Western Australia enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere at the dam and an evening spotlight walk.

We began with a walk along the Cyanide Rd and All Nations Rd loop which is one of the Regent H/E monthly survey routes. Birds were quiet in the afternoon heat and we had to work hard for our results. Afternoon tea was welcome and was followed by a pleasant hour or so at the edge of the dam watching the birds enjoy the water. Yellow-tufted and Fuscous H/Es were plentiful, Black-chinned and Brown-headed H/Es made occasional visits. Brown Tree-creepers,  Turquoise Parrots and a pair of Restless Flycatchers feeding two robust young kept us interested. A pair of Fuscous H/Es had a nest above the picnic table. Located in the outermost foliage of a Red Box  it seemed extremely fragile but was probably as resilient as Fuscous H/Es After tea Scott took us on a spotlight walk along Cyanide and Ballarat Rds and back to the dam via part of the walking track.

As we walked along listening to the last calls of Kookaburras we recorded  Fox, Grey Kangaroos and Black Wallabies and plenty of speedy bats. This is the dry phase of the forest and no eucalypts were in flower which accounted for the scarcity of insect life and apparent absence of small mammals. Last year at this time three species of glider were recorded in eucalypt flower. If only we could predict the flowering!

5.15am and the dawn chorus was getting underway.  We were quite sure that every Fuscous H/E in the park roosted at the dam! The air was crisp and we enjoyed a very early breakfast with Turquoise Parrots, Brown Tree-creepers and honeyeaters before setting off on White Box Walk. Birdsong greeted us as we reached the top of Bar Trail and walked along the ridge. Turquoise Parrots were plentiful feeding quietly on the ground, Yellow Robins with young, Dusky Wood swallows and honeyeaters were busy foraging for insects.

Magnificent  views of a Yellow-footed Antechinus, backlit by the low morning, sun highlighted this part of the walk. Stringybark was in good bud along the lower section of the walk and isolated Ironbarks had small bud on them. Crossing a ridge in the White Box section we came upon a flurry of bird activity in a gully. Birds are good at finding water and there in the sedge bed was the object of their activity.

Back at the camp site our hunger prompted Neville to drive into town to visit the bakery. Apple Twist and tea went down very well. We covered  20+ kilometres on our walks and every step was thoroughly enjoyed.

Friends Conference

The Eighth Biennial Friends Conference will be held at Lord Somers Camp, Somers on 19-20 April.

Cost for two days including accommodation and all meals is $85.00. Add $5.00 {for accommodation only}if you wish to come on Friday night. Saturday only, including lunch and dinner $50.00. Sunday only, with lunch $40.00.

Programme includes: Wildlife, Wetlands and Workshops on Friends Activities. Somers Camp is close to the Coolart Wetlands so birdwatching, beach walking and wetland visits are on the programme. If you are interested please contact me for further information.

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